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Bombers give Hird another helping hand

By Greg Buckle 12/10/2010 07:15:36 PM Comments (0)

Essendon claim the appointment of former Cats assistant coach Brendan McCartney is "another step" in giving new head coach James Hird all the help he needs.

The arrival at Windy Hill of McCartney, who served under head coach Mark Thompson at Geelong for the past 11 years, has prompted a fresh bout of speculation that former Essendon skipper Thompson is edging closer towards accepting a role with the Bombers.

Two-time premiership coach Thompson quit Geelong on October 4 despite having one year left on his contract, saying he was simply tired of the relentless pressure of a being head coach of an AFL club.

"We have been clear in our ambition to put together the best possible coaching group to support our new senior coach James Hird and this is another step towards that," Essendon football manager Paul Hamilton said on Tuesday.

"Brendan knows football back to front and more importantly, the underlying trends for where the game is going.

"He is also a great manager of people and players and comes highly regarded for his development of players and his ability to teach.

"While his role will primarily be working with our AFL side, we believe Brendan will be able to pass on some valuable knowledge to our development academy as well."

Geelong football manager Neil Balme said the Cats had planned for McCartney to focus solely on developing the club's younger players in 2011.

"However he has now informed us he is looking to pursue a senior match-day role instead," Balme said.

"On this basis we have reluctantly accepted Brendan's decision to resign."

While the Cats had indicated they would look inside the club and across the nation for Thompson's replacement, current assistant Brenton Sanderson and Gold Coast assistant Ken Hinkley were always seen as front-runners rather than McCartney.

However McCartney was shortlisted for the Port Adelaide coaching job which eventually went to Matthew Primus and last month was named the AFL Coaches Association's assistant coach of the year for his work with Geelong's defence and midfield.

Geelong chief Brian Cook said he "half-expected" that Thompson would accept a role at Essendon as coaching rookie Hird's mentor.

But amid fears of a backlash from Cats fans, Cook said the timing of the move would be an important factor.

"If it was done (at) the end of 2011 or start of 2012, I think it would become acceptable," Cook said on October 4.

"I'm half-expecting that might happen, and I don't think anyone would worry about that.

"You certainly wouldn't want `Bomber' to go in to Essendon in any capacity in the shorter term."

Since last month's appointment of club great Hird as coach, the Bombers have added Sean Wellman and Simon Goodwin to their coaching staff.

Assistant coach Adrian Hickmott departed on Tuesday, joining fellow assistants Gary O'Donnell, Alan Richardson, Scott Camporeale and Ashley Prescott in leaving Windy Hill.

Richardson, who applied for the head-coaching role at Essendon, admitted last week the Thompson factor had helped convince him to seek greener pastures elsewhere by joining Carlton.

"There has been a lot of speculation about `Bomber' (Thompson)," Richardson said.

"I don't really know where that's going to end up. But it meant the role I was looking to play wasn't going to be there at the footy club."

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